Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka is making a name for himself as one of the club’s most exciting young prospects.
But, remarkably, the 18-year-old Saka is still not in the first team dressing room at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground.
The dressing rooms are split into first team and an academy wing and the youngsters have to wait until they are invited to be with the big boys.
It is a long standing tradition at the club that the players have to win their place and it is designed to keep the youngsters grounded and their feet on the floor.
Another academy graduate, Emile Smith-Rowe, talked about it last season as he waited his turn.
“To be fair, I am not actually in the changing room at the training ground,” Smith-Rowe said 12 months ago. “I change separately, find out about 10 minutes before I am due to go out and just run over and train.
“I am still waiting to be asked to move along the corridor. I know a couple of players have done it – Alex Iwobi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles but yeah hopefully soon.”
Arsenal will have no worries about Saka getting carried away as he is well liked, very bright and grounded. The first thing he did after scoring his first senior goal was the FaceTime his dad after the game.
Saka, 18, has started Arsenal’s last three Premier League games and is also set to sign a new long term deal which would also elevate his status. Negotiations are already well underway.
It comes as England boss Gareth Southgate even admitted that Saka is now on his radar as he has a wealth of attacking talent in the wide areas.
Talking ahead of England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Czech Republic, Southgate was unprompted as he name checked the Arsenal youngster when asked about how good his front three are in European terms.
Southgate said: “We’ve got Callum Hudson-Odoi coming through and other players are emerging so quickly. You’ve got Bukayo [Saka] at Arsenal just dipping his toes in the first team as well.
“So, we’ve got really good players, we need more than three. I’ve always said that in tournaments that I played in, we always pinned our hopes on one player or two players.”